Saturday, January 29, 2005
By Reymundo Salao
Just Another Film Junkie
The Guardian, January 29, 2005
Elektra was first popularly introduced in the big screen with the 2002 film adaptation of the comicbook series Daredevil. An anti-hero who was far more ruthless in the comics than in the film, for Elektra has been haunted with several misfortunes as her father was killed by criminal syndicates years before (which was included in the Daredevil movie storyline), and her mother was killed by an assassin when she was just a child.
Elektra has a very simple story of a ruthless female assassin-for-hire whose twist of fate makes her realize that she really isn't a bad guy after all. When she was tasked to kill a mysterious man and his 13-year-old daughter that she briefly met, her instincts proved how deep her conscience of good must be, as she radically decides to spare them and even protect them from the other assassins that followed up on her unaccomplished assignment. This led her to get in the middle of a war between split sectors of a ninja clan; the order of the Hand. Only then does she discover how her actions might tip the balance between this aged-old war.
The film works as a stand-alone movie apart from the Daredevil movie, but it shows flashbacks and hints from that movie with scenes of the events that took place right after the Daredevil storyline. In the Daredevil movie, Elektra was killed in battle by Daredevil's adversary (the appropriately named) Bullseye. This movie shows scenes where Elektra was being revived after the incident. This, however, occurs in a flashback sequence for the timeline of this movie occurs (probably) years after, when Elektra has moved on and away from her former life, becoming the unemotional machine that she is, a coldhearted killer reputed in the world of assassination. And like most stories of dark heroes, there would always be a point of redemption in the end, and our hero becomes the noble warrior that she is.
The movie is a great addition to the growing film adaptations of the Marvel Universe that can connect Daredevil, Elektra, Punisher, and even Spiderman into the same universe. It may also be taken into notice by geeks that the villains of this movie, ninja cult The Hand are also the same ninja cult that trained X-men character Psylocke. If the character Psylocke does appear in the next X-men movie, it holds some sort of distant but connected involvement between characters of different movies. Just a thought.
Jennifer Garner, who has become quite popular for her action TV series "Alias", plays the lead character. She is fantastic for this role, a cold killer, whose memories of tragedy and loss haunt her. Much credit may be due to "Alias" which has made her an icon for the action-chick genre. What is so wonderful about Garner is that she has a warrior's grace and an amazon beauty. When I would look at her I would find her beauty not in a feminine and sexy kind of way, but in a manner that she seems to carry the persona of an uber-babe that is strong in will, conviction, and even strength. When I look at her, I would say "I bet she could kick my ass, and I would like it"
Also an overwhelming presence is that of Terence Stamp, who plays a martial arts guru, funnily nicknamed Stick. It is so hard to pull off a role of a martial arts guru if you do not look completely oriental but on the case of Stamp, he pulls it off by the way his stage presence lets you shut up and listen to what he has to say. Stamp's acting is superb, even though he does play a mere supporting role. His performance and its chemistry with Garner's similarly potential charm in acting make a perfect blend. One scene that was simply footnote worthy was when Elektra was banished by Stick from their order. Garner's simple vibe of emotions evoke real sincerity.
Worth mentioning also are the other actors, especially the cool villains that possess supernatural powers. One that really mesmerized me was villainess Typhoid (also known as "Typhoid Mary" in the comicbooks), whose deadly killing powers are easily secreted off her body, that a mere kiss can kill her victims. She was one hot villainess. A postergirl for cruel-cool.
Elektra is really a far cry from the evanescence-synching sai-chick in Daredevil. Daredevil may have been pretty bland that it did not seem to satisfy fans of both Daredevil and Elektra alike. But this time, director Rob Bowman, whose known for his longtime work with the X-files, has taken the duty to breathe more life into the character of this dark heroine. And indeed, a great surge of life did pump into Elektra. Bowman delivers a great sense of enigma in the scenes where Elektra is unlocking her fears during her childhood, and the action scenes are seem to be a great homage to the classic ninja movies and Hongkong films as well. Bowman did a fine work in avoiding the stunt-with-wires Hongkong-style technique, which often appears ridiculous. The stunts and action sequences of this film have great martial arts techniques and stunt tricks that are breathtaking to watch blow-by-blow. So much so that Garner was seriously injured during the filming of this movie.
ELEKTRA is one mean action-chick flick that rates well along with other superhero/comicbook genre films like "X-Men" and "Punisher". It may also be a great film if you love the Daredevil series, as this movie may have hints for either an Elektra sequel or another Daredevil cross-over.